The West is Awake!!!
Despite the continued mess that Shell and their partners have created in Mayo, the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey has granted a further exploration off the Donegal coast.
The exploration licence granted to Shell E&P and Island Oil and Gas covers an area of 15,800 square kilometres and is valid for 16 years. Although these are deemed to be 'frontier licences' it is widely speculated that the Corrib gas field could be linked to further lucrative reserves between Donegal and North Mayo.
If reserves are found in Donegal then a repeat of the Mayo scandal could easily happen in Donegal in the not too distant future. Enterprise Energy, Shell's predecessor, had an office in Killybegs as far back as 2001 and their former Public and Government Affairs Manager, Ms Rosemary Steen was reported to have said they were ''confident about the company's exploration programme which will involve a further well in Corrib and an oil prospect off Donegal.''
A spokeperson for the Shell to Sea campaign in Donegal commented 'This is an outrage. It's like handing a weapon to a dangerous criminal. Our cosy government are intent in adding insult to injury by promoting the ongoing rape and robbery of our natural resources, environment and rights. Shell have proven they can't be trusted around the world. Their record in Nigeria speaks volumes and their behaviour in Mayo is sickening. The people of Donegal will not tolerate this continued assault on the people of the West. We will organise, resist and expose this rotten licensing deal and the all too cosy relationship between government and big business.'
The Shell to Sea campaign already has a strong presence in Donegal and campaigners are determined to continue their solidarity with the Mayo people as well as up the pressure in light of yesterday's revelations.
There have been public meetings in Ballyshannon, Donegal Town, Glenties, Gweedore and Letterkenny with protests taking place in Glenties and Letterkenny. A major petitioning and leafleting campaign is taking place throughout the county and regular updates take place on Highland Radio, Ocean FM and in the various Donegal newspapers.
The Donegal connection also includes Mark Carrigy, the Corrib gas field project manager who hails from Letterkenny. Recently the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council rejected the motion by Councillor Pearse Doherty calling on the council to support the release of the Rossport 5. The Cathaoirleach ruled that the issue had nothing to do with Donegal. Well, it certainly appears that everything has changed now and Donegal County Council will be hearing a lot more about this issue.
The Natural Resources Department is still accepting licensing applications for the Slyne/Erris/Donegal Licensing Round off the north west coast. The closing date for is March 2006.